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College Recruiting

the college recruiting process

What is the process and how does it work and what are the steps involved...

when does the recruiting process begin

When should you begin to contact and be contacted by coaches and schools.

when should you start the recruiting process

Freshman, Sophomore, Junior or Senior. When should you begin

How ncaa rules impact the recruiting process

From NCAA rules, to calendar. How does this impact the recruiting process.

when do coaches stop recruiting

When do College Coaches stop the recruiting process.

College Recruiting is a Difficult Process

Individuals and families can spend many hours searching the Internet and information for advice on how to get recruited, if you have the time to do that.  But time can always be an issue. Between all the things you have going on (school, practices, work and other extracurricular activities, etc.) it’s hard to find the time to do the work and put it all together.

That's what we at Ahead In The Count Recruiting, LLC is here for. Let us do the work and help you get all the information you need to make an informed decision.

College Recruitig Process
Recruiting Menu

RECRUITING: What Does It Mean?

In college sports, recruiting refers to how college coaches fill the roster spots on their team with prospective student-athletes. Coaches have to be successful in what they do, but different coaches have different needs. Some will look for athletes with better grades and test scores, while other coaches will need to fill spots on their roster according to their current position needs. In the end, recruiting is the process of finding potential prospects that will be a good fit for a coach's team before they are offered a chance to play at the college level. 

What is The College Recruiting Process?

The recruiting process can be a complicated endeavor, but we’re here to help you. 

Ahead In The Count Recruiting LLC, offers a Player Evaluation complete with measurables, metrics, and a skills video in addition to helping you to reach out to schools you may be interested in. We give families the ability to work with us to find a great college fit .

A lot of coaches begin the recruiting process by contacting many athletes that they think would be a good fit for their program. Through evaluations, reviewing highlight video and contact with recruits, they will start to cut that number down until they’ve filled their open roster spots. 

What Are College Coaches Looking For?

Coaches have different criteria when looking for student athletes. Levels of competition,

open positions, academic requirements, and more are all part of this. Additional things

that they look for are:

  • Athletic Ability: One of the most important factors. A Coach's job is usually

        dependent on the team winning. So, coaches are looking for the best

        athletes that they can sign.

  • Academics:  Often, a college coach will have several recruits to choose from.

        When that happens, they are more likely to pick the one with stronger academics

        and grades because they are less likely to experience academic problems in the future. 

  • Character: This is more important than most athletes and families might think. When coaches scout athletes, they like to see how athletes interact with their teammates, opponents, coaching staff and even parents. 

  • Location:  This can also be a big factor in recruiting. Successful programs with large budgets may recruit all over the country (and even internationally). Smaller schools may only have the resources to recruit from certain regions where they have relationships with high school and travel coaches.




Steps of the College Recruiting Process


College coaches generally follow specific steps through their recruiting process.  College coaches usually do the following:

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  1. Gather a list of prospective athletes.

  2. Send out recruiting letters, questionnaires, and camp invites.

  3. Conduct evaluations.

  4. Extend verbal offers and scholarships.

  5. Sign athletes



Coaches Put Together a List of Prospective Athletes Who Meet Basic Requirements


These may be the athletes that the coaches have seen in action at camp, games, or tournaments, or from referrals they got from other sources. It could include athletes who reached out to their target list of schools. This  information will help to identify recruits who meet basic criteria like height, weight, position, grad year, academics, location and more. To do so, coaches could use the following:

  • Recruiting media sites where athletes may have information about themselves.

  • Third-party recruiting services.

  • Recommendations from high school or club coaches

  • Emails and messages from recruits

  • Camps and showcases where they can see many potential recruits in one place.

Many athletes may make it through the initial evaluation process at smaller programs, while even more prospects may make it to the next step at larger programs.


Attending camps and showcases held by coaches at schools you’re interested in should be considered.  Get your name in front of college coaches as much as possible through emails, social media and other ways to contact college coaches. 



Sending out Letters, Questionnaires and Camp Invites


Coaches begin sending out messages to a large group of athletes to get an idea of how many might be interested in their program. Athletes who pass the initial evaluation will likely receive one or more of the following:

  • Requests to complete a recruiting questionnaire

  • Invitations to a camp

  • General interest letters from the school

Questionnaires are sent or are available to all athletes on college web sites. Most athletes who write or phone coaches expressing their  interest could also be added to a list for potential evaluation. How do college recruiting questionnaires work? They are basic information that coaches want to see about any potential recruit.  After coaches send these communications, they will see who responds, gauge the athletes interest, and  narrow their list of prospects down.


Respond to each coach with a personalized message, thanking them for the letter and letting them know you are interested in their program. Coaches are very good at spotting generic messages and mass emails.

Here is where athletes want to know if a college coach is really interested and the answer is usually quite simple: If you’ve received mail (or an email) from the coach, they are most likely evaluating you . It’s in your best interest to quickly follow up to ensure you get to the next step in the recruiting process.

Coaches Conduct In-Depth Athletic, Academic and Character Evaluations of Recruits


Coaches really need to get to know recruits in order to create a ranked list. This means they usually will:


1.  Get in touch with athletes

2, Start calling their high school and club coaches for an evaluation/recommendation.

3. Travel to large tournaments or showcases where many of their recruits will be competing

4. They will send athletes personalized invites to their own camps.

5. Official and unofficial visits can also happen at this time.


Before a coach decides to offer you a scholarship, he will do an extensive background check to find out everything he can about you. Phone calls to your high school coach, club coach, guidance counselor, teachers, friends, and any local contacts he has will provide the information he needs.


Take the initiative to show coaches why you deserve to make it to the next round of the recruiting process. Send them updated athletic and academic stats and highlight videos. Ask your high school and club coach to reach out to college coaches on your behalf. And let coaches know you’re coming to their school for an unofficial visit.

Coaches Extend Scholarship Offers


Once the coaching staff has finalized their recruiting list, they will look to lock up commitments. 


Coaches may still conduct on-campus visits. So be prepared to answer if they get an offer. The remaining athletes on the recruiting list can continue through the application process. If they end up attending the school, they could be invited to join the team as walk-ons.

A college coach can make you an offer. Verbal offers—non-binding, handshake agreements between a recruit and a college coach—can happen at any time and age. However, remember, both the recruit and the coach can back out of them at any time. Offers become official when the athlete signs their National Letter of Intent.

Coaches Sign Athletes and Ensure Academic Eligibility


The last step for coaches is making sure that each recruit signs with their program and meets eligibility requirements. Here’s how the committing and signing timeline works in most cases:

  • The athlete verbally commits to the school.

  • The college coach extends an official offer.

  • The athlete signs the official offer.

  • The athlete continues to meet eligibility requirements by taking all the necessary core courses and receiving the required GPA in those courses.

There are athletes who have signed with a college but end their senior year ineligible to compete at the college level. The coach will need to go back to their list of top prospects and see if the athlete who ranked number two in that spot is still available, interested and academically eligible. The former recruit will likely need to compete for a year or two at a junior college to gain academic eligibility.


When Does The Recruiting Process Begin?


Student-athletes can partake in early recruiting by reaching out to college coaches with emails, video, transcripts, etc.—college coaches just can’t respond until the rules say they can.

It’s never too early for student-athletes to research colleges, maintain their grades, update their recruiting video and prepare themselves to hit the ground running when they’re allowed to freely communicate with college coaches. 

College Recruiting Timeline

  • Freshman year:

                       -Research different division levels and learn differences.

                       -Understanding NCAA recruiting rules

                       -Knowing measurables for your sport (40-yard dash, vertical jump, etc.), etc.

  • Sophomore year:

                       -Building your athletic resume

                       -Make a highlight video

                       -Contacting college coaches at levels that can already recruit (D3, NAIA, junior college), etc.

  • Junior year:

                        -Focus on contacting college coaches

                        -Write letters, make calls, compile a target list of colleges, etc.

  • Senior year:

                        -For those that haven’t received an offer, continue to contact college coaches and have another choice ready.



















College Recruiting Timeline for Freshmen

It’s never too early for recruits to get a head start on the college recruiting process. But this doesn’t mean you have to start contacting coaches or sending coaches their highlight or skills videos.

Freshmen recruits should:

  • Research different college programs and division levels

  • Gather clips for their recruiting video

  • Create a recruiting profile to make it easier for college coaches to discover and evaluate their athletic and academic skills.  

College Recruiting Timeline for Sophomores


By your sophomore year of high school, you should:

  • Spend a few hours a week on recruiting. (build your recruiting profiles, create a target list of 30-40 schools, finalize and start sharing their recruiting videos and get ready to reach out to college coaches).

  • Complete questionnaires for schools they’re interested in

  • Write personalized emails to college coaches to show their athletic and academic skills. 










College Recruiting Timeline for Juniors

Junior year is now-time for recruiting. This is usually when student-athletes and college coaches interact with each other the most as NCAA allow coaches to speak to you directly.  During this time:

  • College coaches often let recruits know if there are open roster spots for their grad year

  • Whether they’re actively recruiting for their position

  • If a recruit needs to improve athletically or academically to stay on their list of prospects.


If you aren't hearing from coaches, all is not lost. There’s still time to land a roster spot (with hard work and dedication to play catch-up). 










College Recruiting Timeline for Seniors 

Senior year is the time when:

  • College coaches want to get athletes on campus for unofficial and official visits.

  • Coaches want to ask prospective recruits questions to learn more about them and gauge their interest.

Visits are a great way to see if a school is the right fit—from attending a class, meeting with admissions officers and hanging out with the team or attending a practice or game, recruits should be prepared to narrow down their focus to a few schools and get closer to making a verbal commitment or officially signing their National Letter of Intent.

Seniors who are just starting their recruiting process or haven’t been hearing back from college coaches need to work hard—and fast. While it’s not too late to get recruited, some college rosters, tend to fill up earlier in the year, so recruits need to be prepared to expand their target lists to include schools across all division levels.













When Should You Start The Recruiting Process?

The important thing to know about starting the process is that the earlier you plan, the better prepared you will be to get recruited. Athletes can build their target list, research schools, attend camps, edit their recruiting video before having contact with a college coach. In college recruiting, it is better to be ahead in the process in order to receive recruiting interest while a coach still has open roster spots. It’s never too early to start.

Recruiting Process:  Reasons to Start vs. Wait

No athlete’s recruiting process looks the same. While some athletes verbally commit as young as 7th grade, others wait until their seniors to find last-minute opportunities. 





















NCAA Recruiting Rules and Recruiting Calendar 


The NCAA recruiting calendar and related recruiting rules are meant to specify the types of communication that athletes and college coaches can have. Here are the major periods:

  • Evaluation period: college coaches can watch an athlete in person or visit their school. Coaches are not allowed to have in-person contact with the athlete or their parents.

  • Contact period: communication between college coaches and athletes is allowed. This includes emails, texts, phone calls, direct messages and in-person contact. During this time, student-athletes usually focus on the following:

  • Dead period: college coaches may not have any in-person contact with athletes or parents. Athletes and coaches can still communicate via emails, texts, phone calls and direct messages.

  • Quiet period: athletes can only have in-person communication with college coaches on their college campus. Athletes and coaches can still communicate via emails, texts, phone calls and direct messages.












When Do College Coaches Stop Recruiting?

College coaches stop recruiting when they have filled their roster. But this depends on when they started recruiting and how long that takes. Because top athletes go to D1 programs, those schools start recruiting earlier and finish recruiting earlier than D2, D3, NAIA and junior college programs. Colleges at lower levels tend to recruit athletes that have been passed over by colleges at higher levels, so oftentimes colleges at the D3 level will be recruiting later than those at the D1 level.

Coaches Gather
Coaches Send letters


Research to be done on the recruiting process.



Build your resume and make sure you have all your athletic accomplishments together.



Make contact with coaches by email, call, social media, or direct media



Start looking at offers and opportunities that arrive.


Extend offer
Sign athletes
Process Begin
Grade Anchor
How the Recruiting Cycle Works

This is a basic idea of the recruiting cycle. Just think of pool size. To start, the pool size is large and full of potential athletes.  Coaches begin initial evaluations and usually focus on basic requirements. Coaches then send out correspondence to those identified as potential fits (to see if there’s mutual interest). The pool size becomes smaller each step of the process. Evaluations continue with the smaller class of potential recruits. Near the end of the process, coaches are inviting recruits on official visits and extending offers.

Initial list of prospective student-athletes that a coach receives. 
Coaches take the list and begin the initial steps in the evaluation process, narrowing down the list.
Correspondence sent out to student-athletes  that appear to be a good fit for the program and the school.
Evaluations continue with this smaller group 
Coaches are having recruits on official visits and  look to offer.
Start Process
Freshman Year:
Why Wait?
Freshman Year:
Why Start the Process?
  1. Top programs recruit early.

  2. You have everything ready.

  3. You may be a top-tier athlete.

  1. You could grow and develop.

  2. Not ready to start the process.

  3. You might be a late bloomer.

Sophomore Year:
Why Wait?
Why Start the Process?
  1. Still roster openings out there.

  2. Look at D2 schools as well.

  3. Start building relationships.

  4. Look at unofficial visits.

  1. You could improve more. 

  2. Need to boost your GPA.

  3. If you have had an injury.

  4. More time to research schools.

Junior Year:
Why Wait?
Why Start the Process?
  1. Don't want to lose out on spots.

  2. Coaches can contact you.

  3. Keep building relationships.

  4. Fine-tune your top schools.

  1. ACT or SAT scores are low

  2. Need to boost your GPA.

  3. Don't meet  admissions for your target school.

  4. More time to research schools.

Why Wait?
Why Start the Process?
  1. Call coaches directly.

  2. Last opportunity.

  3. Social media to see schools.

  4. Look for school needs.

  1. Not sure you want to play.

  2. Want a different college life.

  3. Accepted but can't compete.

Stop Recruiting
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